Fact: Connecting with a coach through the Nudge app more than triples your chances of sticking with healthy changes for 4 months or more.
January 29, 2019
If only facts alone were enough to convince your clients to download an app and connect with you for mobile health coaching, am I right?
If experience has taught you that it can be a little more complicated than that to get your clients set up for remote health coaching, then you’re in the right place.
Most health coaches at this point would agree that mobile health coaching - using software to enable you to remotely track, message and coach your clients - offers a real opportunity to provide more efficient, effective and valuable service to their clients.
Most would agree it helps you more seamlessly fit your services into your clients’ daily lives.
Most would agree the added level of accessibility (having a ‘coach in their pocket’) and convenience can be of enormous value to clients.
And most would agree that the information that can be more easily and conveniently collected on your clients’ daily lifestyle habits can significantly improve the effectiveness of your ongoing coaching by making your feedback more personalized and relevant.
But when value like this seems so apparent to us as health coaches, it becomes easy for us to fall into the trap of assuming the value is also “flat out obvious” to our clients.
After all, according to a survey by ORC International for the Society for Participatory Medicine (SPM), 84 percent (of over 1,000 respondents) said they believe self-monitoring apps and devices can boost health management efforts, and 4 out of 5 noted they are likely to use an mHealth device when recommended by a provider.
So shouldn’t it be a no-brainer for clients?
Unfortunately, as with anything that calls for a person to change their behavior, it isn’t going to be quite that easy. You must take the time to communicate clearly to each client why and how a mobile health coaching app like the Nudge app will help them.
While the purpose of this post is to explain how to effectively present the value of using the app to your clients, the FIRST critical step is that you are making absolutely sure that you are having this conversation with each and every new client at all.
You have to specifically address the value they will get from the app if you want them to sign up.
If you don’t have a specific block of time in your new client onboarding process dedicated to briefly explaining why the app will help clients achieve success, then let this be your #1 take-away from this post.
Stop what you’re doing and build this step into your process now. It can only take a few minutes of planning, but it will save you a lot of ongoing pain and frustration.
Taking Time to Discuss the App with Each Client
When you make the assumption that it’s obvious to your clients why they should be using the app, you aren’t just assuming they have already figured out all the positives for using the app on their own...
You’re also assuming they will decide on their own that the positive reasons they see for using an app with you will outweigh any hesitations about using technology that they may come in the door with.
(This concept of the individual weighing of pros and cons about changing a behavior is known as the “decisional balance sheet” in behavioral science. If you’d like a quick primer, this video shows how the decisional balance sheet fits into motivational interviewing).
Someone could have had bad experiences with technology in the past, they may not trust apps with their personal info, or they may even be imagining your plan is to creepily monitor everything they do. The point is that these hesitations people have are often completely reasonable and easy to address, but not if you don’t intentionally set aside the time to have the conversation.
Remember: Intentionally setting aside at least 5 good minutes to specifically talk about WHY using the app will help your clients have success will help you avoid clients dragging their feet for unknown personal reasons and save you hours of time and frustration trying to figure out why you can’t get them more engaged.
But once you’ve set aside that time, it’s also important to communicate the value clients will get from using the app in a way that’s clear and convincing.
If you aren’t sure the best way to present the value of the app within the context of your program, here are a couple of simple example “scripts” to get your creative juices flowing.
“The App Shows How Much We Care”
This simple script has been used by the Optimal Heart Attack and Stroke Prevention Center to introduce the idea of using the app to patients for years, and it’s been highly effective:
“We care about you even when you are not here in the clinic with us.
We take a different approach and have found a safe and easy way to connect with you even when you are not here.
As part of your care we have developed a safe and secure app that can easily be added to your smartphone.
Would you consider connecting this way?”
Optimal Heart’s clientele are often older, and sometimes less trusting of technology, which is why the reassuring tone of this script is right on the money.
It’s also worth noting that although this is an incredibly brief script, it is used as a conversation starter and not a declarative “call-to-action.” By ending with a question like, “Would you consider connecting in this way?” Dr. Steve and his team at Optimal Heart are inviting patients to share their concerns and hesitations so that they can address them up front, before they could ever affect ongoing engagement or hinder ongoing progress with critical healthy lifestyle changes.
In fact, here is a video of Dr. Steve acting out how he introduces the Nudge app to his most hesitant and least tech-savvy new clients:
“How the App Helped Someone Like You”
Telling a story about a specific time a client got incredible value from being connected with you through the coaching app can be very convincing, especially when the client you’re talking to can relate to the person in your story.
This strategy will become most natural for you if you can substitute the following example for a real story from your life or business, but if you’re drawing a blank and this fits with the clientele you serve then there’s no shame in imitating this one.
What makes this effective is using a story that you know will be specifically relatable for the person you are onboarding.
In this case, if I was having a conversation with a new client and got a hint that they may not feel so comfortable with idea of sharing personal data with me or using technology in general, then this could be a powerful narrative...
“I can understand your hesitation, I’m not always the first to want to use ‘tech’ either. But do you mind if I tell you a quick story that made me want to do mobile coaching?
So my friend who uses this app was working with a client whose a little bit older, and at first wasn’t crazy about the idea of trying to use an app to keep up with his health and his coach.
Long story short my friend was able to convince his that he wasn’t big brother - didn’t want to monitor his every move - and just wanted to use it so he could track sync up his daily steps at first and get a better sense of how much he was moving each day in-between sessions.
So after a couple weeks my friend checks his coaching platform to see how this guy is doing, and notices for the first time that this guy hasn’t tracked any steps in a couple of days.
This is odd because he had his Apple Health app synced with Nudge, so all his steps had been very consistently coming in for him to see, so he decided to send him a quick message: ‘Hey Joe, I noticed your steps haven’t been getting into the app for some reason, is everything okay? Can I help you get your phone back synced up?’
Well it turns out that his client had gotten really sick and replied asking if he should see a doctor, and my friend was able to set up an appointment for him that day. All because he was connected with him through this app.
After his client saw his doctor and got back to 100%, my friend got a message through the app saying, “Steve, I wasn’t sure about this app, but the way you were able to touch base with me when I needed it… well, you’ve got a client for life.”
I hope none of my clients ever fall that ill of course, but when heard that story I decided, that’s the way I want to be able to be there for my clients when life throws them for a loop and they need a hand to help them stay on course.
So, sorry to be long-winded, but do you think this would be something you would consider trying with me?”
People remember stories better than facts and figures, and that’s why this strategy is so powerful.
If you are able to find a narrative that your new client can relate to - ideally a story with a main character that your new client can identify and empathize with - then you will be effective.
In fact, there is a surprising amount of science, for example the pioneering work of neuroeconomist Paul Zak, explaining the persuasive power of stories.
Even if they forget the specifics, your clients will associate your story with the app and it will creep back in their memory from time-to-time, helping them remember how much you care. And better yet, that they can, indeed, stick with their healthier lifestyle changes because they have your support.
As Donald Miller shows in his book, “Building A Storybrand,” you can use storytelling as a highly effective tool to shape your brand, clarify your message so customers ‘get it,’ and grow your business.
Multiple members of our team (including this writer) are fans of SB7 framework.
And if you’re just getting a new business or program off the ground, you might find pairs well with this online course on “How To Launch A Successful Remote Health Program,” taught by industry leaders Matt Essex and Dr. Steve Feyrer-Melk.
Let us know what you think about these strategies, or share your own in the comments section below for a chance to win a coupon for up to $200 off our online courses.